Maybe we should have picked the first or second itinerary options, because then we would have beat the Pennsylvania Turnpike toll increase that takes effect Sunday.

But at least we’re not going to be driving a vehicle weighing 100,001 pounds or more! I think our Pennsylvania Turnpike toll is going to be $16.25; the heaviest of trucks would pay $636.00 between the same two interchanges. Actually, based on my previous experiences, if that toll rate keeps a few trucks off the turnpike, it’s good, because driving between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh gets very tedious when you’re having to pass hundreds of trucks that are going very slowly up the hills.

Original comments…

Luke: Ah, fond memories of how Sandy and I decided to take the turnpike to get to Maryland. (Sorry the display is all munged up, and I can’t link to the precise post. It’s the fifth one.)

Jim: What was then a $6.50 toll (from the Ohio state line to Breezewood) is now $9.50.

I guess I can’t compare the I-79/I-68 routing to Three Rivers Stadium anymore, since I-79 and I-68 are still in existence. Perhaps someday they will be replaced by or supplemented with high-speed railroad corridors, which I will then be able to compare to PNC Park.

Speaking of your 2001 trip, have I ever mentioned that I bought a Nikon 990 digital camera based on the loveliness of the pictures from that trip (which, alas, seem to have disappeared from your site)? Sometimes I wish I’d bought something a little smaller, but I have to admit it takes lovely pictures. Of course, it’s way out of date now, much like my third-generation iPod that will also be making the trip. These kids today, with their 8-megapixel digital cameras and their click-wheel iPods…

Levi: If all goes well, I’ll next weekend (at my brother’s wedding) be getting my sister’s extra iPod (She got one, then her husband won one), passing mine along to Stacey, who has less need for thousands of songs at her fingertips daily.

I don’t know how big this one is, but it’s bigger than my 5-gig one, that’s for sure.

Jim: Won one by buying the 97,600,000th song (or whatever) from the iTunes Music Store? If so, awesome! If not, slightly less awesome, but still awesome! I can’t even remember now how many total songs I won from Pepsi bottlecaps. If it’s a third-generation iPod, it’ll work with the car charger I’m bringing, so there will be no need to worry about having to charge up the battery in order to listen to Jack Benny.

I hope the game justifies the positive feedback

I have been checking eBay occasionally to see if anyone is selling tickets for the games on the trip. Finally, that paid off, because I found someone selling his 18-rows-behind-the-plate season seats for the August 23rd Tigers-White Sox game. I gambled on not using “Buy It Now,” and that paid off as well; I ended up being the only bidder, so I got them for his starting price, a significant discount from the face value. The tickets came in the mail today.

I didn’t post anything about this before now because I didn’t want any of the miscreants who read this blog to bid on the tickets and bump the price up. These will probably be the best seats we have for any game on the trip, except perhaps Davenport, or Montreal.

Rumors and reports of rumors

With Major League Baseball’s trading deadline edging up on us, I am beginning to feel skittish. Talking last night to Dan Rivkin, who will be covering the hoped-for frenzy on Saturday for MLB, I confirmed that he’s heard the same rumors that I’ve heard trickling in all week: Baseball-Related Program Activities 2004 is considering trading me for a player to be named later and the usual “cash considerations.”

I thought it was odd when Jim started talking about reviving No, No, Nanette, but it was only in the last week, when I discovered that Ken Jennings would be taking a break from driving the Jeopardy question writers around the bend, that I began to worry.

I can’t really even blame Jim. Think about it: what do I bring to the trip that Ken Jennings can’t? I’m sure he even knows St. Louis Cardinals history better than I do. Taking me on the trip is like writing Rey Ordonez into the lineup when Alex Rodriguez is available.

But then I remembered my little version of the no-trade clause: I do have the Cardinals tickets. And I bet Ken Jennings’s family doesn’t live within convenient driving distance of Busch Stadium.

Maybe I’ll get to stay on the roster after all.

P.S. One more thought about the deadline. I really dislike that MLB has moved it up to 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. I think it should be the stroke of midnight on the 31st, and that at that moment, Bud Selig’s voice should come over the speaker phones of every general manager: “Time. Put your pencils down.”

Original comments…

Jim: As far as I know, Ken Jennings is unavailable for the trip because “Jeopardy!” is taping shows on August 24th and 25th. But even if he’s lost, you don’t get your “Jeopardy!” winnings check from Sony until after your last air date (and it can be up to 120 days later), so it’s not like he’d be able to spring for, say, rooms in the SkyDome Hotel.

Also, he may be the fun, easy-going type of Mormon, but he’s still a Mormon, and for all I know, he might spend the trip berating me for drinking caffeinated beverages. True, Levi might spend the trip berating me for eating hot dogs, bacon, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, and other meat products, but at least I know how to deal with him — distract him with some sort of reading material, and he’ll be quiet for hours (why do you think I made sure to get all those AAA Tourbooks?). Ken Jennings seems to like movies better than reading, believe it or not, and there won’t be a DVD system in the rental car.

Jason: I would think Ken Jennings would be Jim’s nemesis. (Or is that ‘arch-nemesis’?)

Toby: I say trade Levi for me. I have a press pass.

Toby: …And I eat nothing except meat!

Friday reading

Last year, espn.com ranked all 30 ballparks…which, of course, means their list is out of date already, and I’ve got to believe the two new-for-2004 parks would rank higher than the parks they replaced. I can’t disagree with most of their observations, at least of the stadiums I’ve been to, although some of the items they rated aren’t relevant to me (I’ve never had much of a desire for stadium beer, for example).

On the trip, we’ll be going to their best (PNC Park) and their worst (Olympic Stadium), as well as their Number 9, Number 11, Number 12, Number 16, Number 19, Number 20, and Number 23, plus the new, and therefore not on their list, Citizens Bank Park.

Let’s see, if I call in sick Friday and Saturday…

I’m trying to figure out if I can get up to Fresno for the Grizzlies game Friday evening. It’s Best of the Worst Night, so people get in free if they’re wearing paraphernalia related to the New York Mets (because of their 1962 season), the Ottawa Senators (1992-93), the Philadelphia 76ers (1972-73), or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976). I happen to have not just a Buccaneers T-shirt, but an authentic orange and white Buccaneers T-shirt, i.e., the colors they were wearing in 1976. (Authentic, unlike this jersey, which has several things wrong with it, most notably the large red stripes on the sleeves.)

Granted, that’s a long way to go solely for a free ticket to a minor-league baseball game, but where else am I going to get to show off my old Bucs shirt? (I wore it to a friend’s house to watch Super Bowl XXXV, but that get-together was filled with non-football fans who didn’t fully appreciate the significance.) Maybe if I combined it with my Devil Rays cap, the Grizzlies would actually give me money at the gate.

Original comments…

Steve: Since you are on the West Coast, would any Seattle Pilots memorabilia count? They only won 64 games and they only lasted one year. That’s pretty bad. By the way, with someone approaching their 30th birthday (me) nothing says “You’re 30” like a bright orange historically inaccurate long sleeve Doug Williams jersey in size L

Jason: Since it’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive, you’d need to leave by 3 p.m. to make it.

I’m wondering if I should figure out a way to go along. I’d be willing to wear my Northwestern Wildcats hat (whose football team lost 34 straight games in the early ’80s), but it appears they’re only concerned with professional futility.

Basebrawl, the fun version

Now, even if you didn’t enjoy Jason Varitek’s attempt to pluck out Alex Rodriguez’s eyes on Saturday, I think you’ll enjoy the brawl from last night’s White Sox/Twins game as presented by Batgirl.

What, you say? There was no brawl? Well, she thinks there should have been, after Corey Koskie was hit by pitches three times in the game. And she’s got Lego men and a digital camera, all she needs to make her own brawl.

By the way: what do you think Varitek was going to do with A-Rod’s eyes if he got them? At first I thought he was planning ahead to use the hidden ball trick, but I don’t think that would work as well with eyeballs as it did with a potato that one time.

Original comments…

Dan: I think I read Varitek was going to threaten to throw his eyes into the Tigris River unless the Yankees withdrew their club from first place.

Jason: I think he was confusing Alex Rodriguez with Bette Davis.

Just ask Kim Carnes.

Alternate universe version of the trip number two, almost finished

Indians 5, Royals 1. Brand-new Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley started his career in Cleveland, which I didn’t realize until I looked him up just now.

Tomorrow: Speaking of brand-new Hall of Famers, it’s Milwaukee, home to Paul Molitor for most of his career. This was pretty well-planned, eh?

Back here in the real world, on the lookout for airplane reading material for the trip, I came across “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” on the bargain shelves at Barnes & Noble for $3.98.

Alternate universe version of the trip number two, continued

Blue Jays 4, Devil Rays 2. The Rays’ winning streak of June is now but a distant memory.

Tomorrow: Cleveland! Actually, it’s late enough that it’s later today, really. My excuse is that, since this is only a pretend version of the trip, I can go to a friend’s birthday karaoke party in real life.

Alternate universe version of the trip number two, continued

Expos 2, Marlins 1. I don’t know, Les Poissons didn’t look like World Series champs to me. But maybe that’s because I’m still bitter.

Tomorrow: Toronto, and at last, I won’t look so out of place with the Devil Rays cap I’ve been wearing this whole time!

Original comments…

Jason: You should probably have washed your Rays hat by now. Just because you’re in a French-speaking region, that’s no excuse to drop your sanitary habits.

Schubert, Schumann, and Senators?

According to a Washington-based media news site, assuming the greater D.C. area really is getting the Expos, one radio station group owner is already looking forward to getting the broadcast rights…and putting the broadcasts on their classical station, which would henceforth use the slogan “Bach, Beethoven, and baseball.”

Elsewhere, someone has already suggested Washington Insiders as a team name. If it were up to me, though, I’d follow the Swing of the Quad Cities model and name the team The Fat Cats in Washington.

Original comments…

Jason: I’d name them the D.C. Follies. It fits so well.

Dan: Or do the trendy non-plural team name: The D.C. Cab.